Harry Gant: Alexander County's Racing Legend - myfoxcarolinas.com

Harry Gant: Alexander County's Racing Legend

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Alexander County is rich in racing history. "Handsome" Harry Gant is one of Taylorsville's favorite sons and a NASCAR legend. When he was growing up, he remembers Saturday nights in the neighboring city of Hickory.

"It was a sin if you didn't go to Hickory on a Saturday night," said Gant. "That's what you done, you hurried up and got anything you had to do on up until I started racing over there, that's what you done. You go to the race in Hickory on a Saturday night. It was a blast....the biggest thing around here."

While he is known for his racing success, that was not the original plan.

“When I went into racing, I didn’t plan on making that my living and I never did. I raced for a hobby and I built houses for a living. I didn’t ever project going any further than that.”


In 1979, Gant entered NASCAR's top series and lost the Rookie of the Year title to Dale Earnhardt. He entered the record books 13 years later as the oldest person to win a Sprint Cup race.

“I was about 39, 38 when I ran for Rookie of the Year, 42 when I won the first race. I never thought much about it really. All the way through, people made more of a big deal out of it than I even thought about it, you know. They had badges made that life begins at 51.”

In all, he won 18 Sprint Cup races, including four in a row in September 1991, which earned him the nickname "Mr. September”. Despite his success, he retired in 1994.

Now, he raises cattle on his hometown farm, but occasionally makes it back to Hickory Motor Speedway to watch up-and-comer Annabeth Barnes race.

“Whenever her class runs, I watch her. Because of the go carts, I mean I have heard name mentioned forever around here when she was winning them go kart races, and then she started racing at Hickory," said Gant.


But, if you ask him about his chances of being inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, don't expect an answer.


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